Recognizing the 3 Stages of Charcot Foot

The ancient Chinese proverb “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” is still cited frequently in our modern world for a simple reason – it’s completely true. There are few, if any, instances wherein something just happens instantaneously, without at least a certain amount of steps building up to that point.

Whereas the wise saying is often used in terms of achieving goals, it also has relevance in the field of medicine. Many health-related issues start as a smaller problem before traversing that “journey of a thousand miles.” Knowing how to recognize the stages of issues like Charcot foot, however, will help you find the care you need at the earliest, most treatable opportunities to stop the condition’s progression.

Keeping that in mind, let’s look at this particular medical condition. We want you to be able to take the appropriate measures—like contacting our medSymptoms of Charcot Footical team—at the early stages so you can reduce your risk of developing serious problems.

Charcot foot is a medical condition that may cause severe deformity and disability, especially when left untreated. In severe cases, amputation can be a necessary treatment option, but there is hope if you are vigilant!

Peripheral neuropathy is commonly experienced by diabetic individuals, and this contributes to the problem because you may be unable to recognize when damage has been sustained to weakened foot bones. Further, diabetes compromises your body’s ability to heal injured tissue in a normal, timely manner.

What often happens is an affected individual will fracture foot bones, even during normal activities, but be unaware of it. With healthy nerves, the individual would receive treatment and keep weight off of the foot. Since the damage goes unrecognized, daily activities will continue to be performed. In turn, this leads to additional damage – a cycle which continues until the foot is extremely misshapen and deformed.

Since catching Charcot foot early is so important, you should remain aware for any abnormal redness, swelling, and increased warmth of a foot and ankle (especially when compared to the other one). The actual stages of this syndrome are as follows:

  • Stage 1 (Acute) – This initial stage extends from development to fragmentation. Signs to know include the aforementioned redness, swelling, and warmth. Early radiographs will show swelling in your soft tissues. Joint dislocation and bony fragmentation may be noted up to several weeks after the condition’s onset.
  • Stage 2 (Subacute) – In the second stage, the damaged bones being to coalesce (come together). You will notice decreases in the previously-observed redness, swelling and warmth. Radiographs in this stage will usually indicate early signs of bony healing.
  • Stage 3 (Chronic) – The final stage of Charcot foot is one of reconstruction and consolidation. At this time, there is no longer any redness, swelling, or warmth. This can be attributed to the fact the bones have “healed.” Whereas the bones may have hardened, they are typically deformed from their normal appearance.

Even more important than knowing these stages, of course, is the action you take once you become aware of a problem. If you do notice Charcot foot symptoms—in any stage—contact our Bloomington office as soon as possible for the professional diagnosis and treatment you need. We will do everything possible to save your foot!

Remember, if you are living with diabetes, you should have a diabetic foot care plan in place. Don’t have one? Then contact us today and we will help you create a plan to protect your feet and reduce your risk of severe medical issues. Call us at (812) 333-4422 and our staff will answer any questions and set you up with an appointment that works for you.